Pedes­trian’s lament

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

DE­CID­ING to walk across Mt Eden Rd dur­ing the morn­ing rush hour had lifechang­ing con­se­quences for Michelle Van Ee­den.

The 49-year-old was hit by a car on Jan­uary 25, 2013 while wait­ing for a break in the traf­fic.

If she’d walked to the pedes­trian cross­ing at the traf­fic lights she might have been late for work at the Unichem Chemist. In­stead, she ven­tured to the cen­tre line where she was struck by a right turn­ing ve­hi­cle.

‘‘I’ve gone over and over it and where I was stand­ing was the worst place I could have been.

‘‘In hind­sight I think why did I walk that far up? But you never think about that sort of thing at the time.’’

The im­pact shat­tered the T11 ver­te­brae in her spine and she was lucky not to be paral­ysed.

But doc­tors couldn’t op­er­ate straight away be­cause of the swelling.

‘‘I was ly­ing on my back with­out be­ing able to move for a week. It was my worst nightmare,’’ she says.

She even­tu­ally had two ribs re­moved so that doc­tors could insert ti­ta­nium plates into her back.

Re­gain­ing con­scious­ness af­ter the oper­a­tion was worse than the col­li­sion it­self, she says.

‘‘I was scream­ing. I was in so much pain. I was ly­ing in the re­cov­ery room for hours. Even though I was on huge amounts of mor­phine they couldn’t get the pain un­der con­trol.’’

She was dis­charged two and a half weeks later but quickly re-ad­mit­ted be­cause she still re­quired mas­sive amounts of pain re­lief.

But there was more to come. Al­most a year later, on Jan­uary 23, she had to have an­other oper­a­tion.

Van Ee­den is usu­ally a pos­i­tive sort of per­son but hav­ing to go through surgery again was tough.

‘‘When I got


I suf­fered from quite bad de­pres­sion for a few weeks. It was like, here I am again stuck in this bed when I want to be at work.’’

She still can’t stand for long pe­ri­ods and has been told it could be an­other year be­fore she is well enough to re­turn to full­time work.

She vol­un­teers at the road safety char­ity Brake and is keen for people to learn from her ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘Part of the heal­ing process for me is say­ing to people think be­fore you jay­walk. Ev­ery­body’s too busy to go and walk that lit­tle bit fur­ther to get to the pedes­trian cross­ing – but why take that risk?’’


Last­ing ef­fects: Michelle Van Ee­den was hit by a car in Mt Eden in Jan­uary 2013 and is yet to fully re­cover.

Crash site: Michelle Van Ee­den was stand­ing on the cen­tre line in front of Unichem Chemist when the crash oc­curred.

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